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DCCCCXC. Want is a bitter and a hateful good, Because its virtues are not understood. Yet many things, impossible to thought, Have been, by need, to full perfection brought. The daring of the soul proceeds from thence, Sharpness of wit, and active diligence; Prudence at once, and fortitude it gives, And, if in patience taken, mends our lives; For even that indigence which brings me low, Makes me myself, and him above, to know A good which none would challenge, few would choose, A fair possession, which mankind refuse. If we from wealth to poverty descend, Want gives to know the flatterer from the friend.
Dryden. DCCCCXCI. If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood; but a hot temper leaps over a cold decree; such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o'er the meshes of good counsel the cripple. --Shakspeare.
DCCCCXCII. In every thing capable of exciting hearty laughter, there must be absurdity, Laughter is an affection from the sudden change of a strained imagination into nothing: This change, which certainly is by no means grateful to the understanding, indirectly, and for a moment, produces very lively gratification. The cause must therefore consist in an influence, exerted upon the body, and in the reaction of this upon the mind. The idea presented is not, in itself, an object of pleasure, as it is in the case of a person who receives tidings of a successful stroke in trade. How, in fact, can mere balked expectations be pleasing? But a play of ideas
takes place, and this excites a play of the powers of life.
An Indian, at table with an Englishman, at Surat, expressed his surprise by loud exclamations, on seeing a vast quantity of froth ooze out of a bottle of porter, as soon as the cork was drawn. Being asked, What surprised him so? Nay, said he, don't suppose I wonder it comes out; but how did you ever contrive to squeeze it in? We do not laugh at this story, because we find ourselves wiser than the poor Indian, or because the understanding finds it in any thing satisfactory, but our expectation was strained, and suddenly vanishes. A rich man's heir is desirous to celebrate his funeral with all solemnity, but he complains that he cannot accomplish his purpose: for, says he, the more I give my mo-mers to look sorrowful, the more cheerful do these fellows appear. The reason why we laugh aloud at this, is the sudden vanishing of expectation.
Let a person of humour, by way of reply, seriously and circumstantially relate how a merchant, on his return home with all his whole fortune in goods, was obliged to throw them all overboard during a violent storm, and that the loss affected him so, that the very same night his periwig turned grey; and we shall laugh aloud. For we feel pleasure in striking to and fro the idea we are catching at, as if it were a ball.
Assuming that, with all our thought, corporeal move. ments are harmonically connected, we can pretty well conceive how the sudden removal of the mind, from station to station, in order to consider its object, is answered by a reciprocating contraction and dilatation of the elastic parts of our viscera. These are communicated to the diaphragm, which (as from tickling) throws the air out by sudden jerks, and occasions a healthy concussion. This alone, and not what passes in the mind, is the true cause of the pleasure derived from a thought, which in reality contains nothing. Voltaire says, that Providence has given us hope and sleep, as a compensa. tion for the many cares of life. He might have added laughter, if the wit and originality of humour, necessa
ry to excite it among rational people, were not so rare. -Kent.
DCCCCXCIII. Hypocrisy itself does great honour, or rather justice, to religion, and tacitly acknowledges it to be an ornament to human nature. The hypocrite would not be at so much pains to put on the appearance of virtue, if he did not know it was the most proper and effectual means to gain the love and esteem of mankind. --Addison.
How many bright
Her fix'd and wand'ring stars the azure sky;
Till in a moment with the last day's brand,
Fairfax— Tasso's Jerusalem delivered.
DCCCCXCV. Taxes and imposts do seldom good to the king's re. venue, for that which he wins in the hundred, he loseth in the shire; the particular rates being increased, but the total bulk of trading rather decreased.-Lord Ba
DCCCCXCVI. It is impossible that an ill-natured man can have a public spirit; for how should he love ten thousand men, who never loved one?-Pope.
DCCCCXCVII. Shallow artifice begets suspicion, And, like a cobweb veil, but thinly shades The face of thy design: alone disguising What should have ne'er been seen; imperfect mischief! Thou, like the adder, venomous and deaf, Hast stung the traveller; and, after, hear'st
Not his pursuing voice; e'en when thou think'st
Congreve. DCCCCXCVIII. The miscarriages of the great designs of princes are recorded in the histories of the world, but are of little use to the bulk of mankind, who seem very little interested in admonitions against errors which they cannot commit. But the fate of learned ambition is a proper subject for every scholar to consider; for who has not had occasion to regret the dissipation of great abilities in a boundless multiplicity of pursuits, to lament the sudden desertion of excellent designs, upon the offer of some other subject made inviting by its novelty, and to observe the inaccuracy and deficiencies of works left unfinished by too great an extension of the plan.Johnson.
DCCCCXCIX. A woman with learning, we look on, as we do on the arms: the workmanship is masterly, the polish exquisite; but then they are only fit to adorn a closet, to be shown to connoisseurs; being of no more service, either in war, or hunting, than a riding-horse, though trained up to perfection.-Bruyere.
M. When a couple are now to be married, mutual love, or union of minds, is the last and most trifling consideration. If their goods and chattels can be brought to unite, their sympathetic souls are ever ready to guaranty the treaty. The gentleman's mortgaged lawn becomes enamoured of the lady's marriageable grove; the match is struck up, and both parties are piously in love-according to act of parliament.-Goldsmith.
MI. Leisure is time for doing something useful: this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man ne
ver; so that, as poor Richard says, A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things.-Franklin.
That renders what I have not mine.
MIV. I caution all writers without genius in one material point, which is never to be afraid of having too much fire in their works. I should advise rather to take their warmest thoughts, and spread them abroad upon paper; for they are observed to cool before they are read. Pope.
MV. Cunning is none of the best nor worst qualities, it floats between virtue and vice: there is scarce any exig'ence where it may not, and perhaps ought to be supplied by prudence. --Bruyere.
MVI. Though the world is crowded with scenes of calamity, we look upon the general mass of wretchedness with